Sunday Wisdom No. 66
We form opinions even without consciously thinking about them, albeit these are unstructured and ambiguous thoughts. Asking the right questions can uncover our automatic thoughts, and bring clarity.
Welcome to Issue 66!
👋 Hi, I’m Abhishek. Welcome to Sunday Wisdom—a weekly advice column on decision-making, clear thinking, creativity, and everything else that’s stressing you out in business and life. I appreciate you being here. If you are loving Sunday Wisdom, you can buy me coffee or share this newsletter with a friend.
What I’m Thinking
Are You Asking The Right Questions?
Human beings aren’t thoughtless or devoid of opinions. Even those who’ve never spent a single second of their lives thinking about anything can have opinions about everything. We form opinions even if we don’t consciously think about them, albeit these are unstructured and ambiguous. You’ll have a hard time articulating them.
But asking the right questions can help you uncover these automatic thoughts, and bring clarity in your thinking. How to ask the right questions?
Why I Still Use An Old iPhone
Millions rush to buy the latest iPhone as soon as it becomes available. Few stop to ask themselves: Why should I buy it?
People have their reasons; and no reason is crazy. Therefore, it would be impossible for me to answer this question for you. What I’m gonna do instead is share something about life, money, and happiness, and leave it to you to find the answer for yourself.
What I’m Working On
Last Sunday I announced about a little workshop I want to do with you guys. My primary motivation is to meet you guys and do something productive together. Thanks so much for filling out the form I had floated with your inputs. If you haven’t done it already, please take 5 minutes to share your ideas.
Some of you wanted to know more about the duration and structure of the workshop. I haven’t planned out the whole thing, but here are some general answers:
Duration: I want to keep it short. Not more than 6–8 hours spread over 3–4 days—with one day gap between sessions.
Strength: I want to work with a small batch of 6 or fewer people—so that we can have maximum interaction with each other. Anything beyond 10 is bound to end up in chaos.
Structure: It won’t be a webinar where I’ll talk and you’ll listen. It would be full of discussions, Q&As, and activities. I’ll be sharing the workshop materials a day or two before so that we all can come prepared with our thoughts and ideas.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Also, it would be great if you take five minutes to share your input by filling out this form. I request you to share your ideas even if you don’t intend on attending. 😉
What I’m Learning
Be a Multi-SKU Creator
Writers and journalists are leaving big media houses to fly solo—mostly with a Substack newsletter. But according to investor Hunter Walk, having only a newsletter in your portfolio won’t pay for your livelihood.
A newsletter is just one SKU. You need to become a multi-SKU creator. There could be a podcast SKU, a YouTube SKU, a speaking fee SKU, a book deal SKU, a consulting SKU, a guest columnist SKU, and so on. One of these would bring you the most money, but the rest of them act as backups in case something goes south.
Having multiple SKUs gives you the freedom to pursue a mix of creative, economic, and lifestyle goals.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
The stories we tell ourselves shape our lives. From a young age, the story we’ve been asked to believe is that money, power, awards, etc., equal success.
But these ‘accomplishments’ are traps. Accomplishment, by its very definition, exists only in the future. They force us to sacrifice our present for them. It’s not a healthy way to spend the present.
They lure us with the promise that if we accomplish this one thing, all our problems will go away, and we’ll find peace; but that’s a lie. As the thinker Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “There is no tomorrow for us to be peaceful in. We have to be orderly on the instant.”
Here are the 4 steps to give effective feedback:
Ask: “Can I give you some feedback?”
State the behaviour: “When you X…”
State the impact: “…the result is Y”
Encourage effective future behaviour: “Keep it up!” for positive feedback, or “Can you change that?” for negative feedback
Don’t give feedback when you are angry, or when you are focussed on the past instead of the future, or when you aren’t able to let it go easily. Be extremely considerate before opening your mouth. When it doubt, better not give any feedback.
The Brain for the Body
Everything the brain conjures—from thoughts to emotions to dreams—is in the service of the body. This insight can be used as a source of resilience in challenging times.
According to this, the distinction between the mental and the physical does not matter. For example, anxiety does not cause stomach aches. Rather, feelings of anxiety and stomach aches are both ways that the human brain makes sense of physical discomfort. There is no such thing as a purely mental cause because every mental experience has roots in the physical.
This is the reason why physical actions like taking a deep breath or getting more sleep can be surprisingly helpful in addressing problems we traditionally view as psychological. This is why it’s recommended to have a fit body in order to have a fit mind.
Your Attention is Your Life
Examining life with the measurement of attention tells you who you are.
If you spend more time thinking about your career, or spend a lot of time engaged at work, you would become a career-oriented person.
This goes the other way around as well. If you are already that type of person, you're likely to care more about your career than other things. This cycle develops our tendencies, and shapes our characters.
Similarly, if you try to pay more attention to the good in others, you can enjoy their camaraderie more. Trying to be nice makes your nicer.
👋 That’s All!
One last thing. Reading this post won’t help, unless you swallow, chew, and digest these ideas. I urge you to become a demanding reader—one who questions the author, seeks answers, and doesn’t shy away from sharing opinions and interpretations.